Insurance and mainstream media, construction groups and product manufacturers were on hand for a demonstration by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) that showed first-hand how using the right products and installing them correctly can limit losses for business.
Fans generated wind gusts of more than 100 mph at two strip-mall like commercial structures side-by-side, with one built using stronger, safer wind-resistant construction, and the other built using common construction practices.
The exterior wall on the common-construction test building began to collapse after windborne debris shattered the front window. Once the wind got inside the inventory was damaged and lost. The home also experienced failure of flashing, the roll-up door, and the roof cover attachment.
In the stronger construction building, once the simulated “tree branch” shattered the front window it also displaced some of the inventory. This highlights the importance of window and door protection even in strong construction.
Low cost, big impact
The enhanced construction techniques cost 5% more, on average, than standard building practices, according to Carl Hedde, Head of Risk Accumulation at Munich Reinsurance America. Carl also serves as chairman of IBHS' board.
The simulation clearly demonstrated that by focusing on several key components, including the roof, the doors, and the walls, business owners can significantly improve commercial building performance by using relatively low-cost mitigation measures.
"The major take home is the difference," he continued, "the small difference in cost to be able to build a much stronger building that protects the occupants, protects the business and ultimately protects the property."
And considering that, according to IBHS, one in four businesses that close during a disaster do not reopen, sound commercial building and construction practices benefit society by keeping this vital sector of our economy in operation.